Not so much when (February), but where...

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Not so much when (February), but where...

Post by Nornny » Tue Jan 22, 2013 6:49 pm

I took advantage of the super cheap airfare to Istanbul on United and Turkish Airways, and will be spending a little over a week in Turkey in February (Feb 15-Feb 24). With the trip booked so last minute, I am hoping this community can help me plan an itinerary, as I try to plot an itinerary that best takes advantage of this off-season trip.

It is my first time in Turkey, but certainly don't believe it will be my last, so I am okay with spending only a day or two in Instanbul and immediately getting out of the city. I understand I can spend a week in Istanbul and not catch everything, so I'm tempted not to bother beyond seeing some of the highlights.

A very strong part of me wants to spend as many days actively hiking/trekking, walking, and being active as possible and thought doing segments of the Lycian Way was a strong possibility or hiking around Cappadocia. I doubt I can do both, and maybe I have blinders on to an even better region to explore at this time of year.

I'm very big on great scenery (for photography), but also history/culture. I would love to happen upon ruins and ancient history and small villages along the way without just taking a tour bus directly to a major site or attraction. I tend to shy away from touristy destinations, but I'm learning nothing in Turkey will be super overrun in mid-February.

The most ideal trip for me is to have a car or public transportation, where I can base myself in an area, and do some spectacular dayhikes, and return back to base (where I can pick up my bag and move on to the next town or starting point).

I hope this isn't too specific. My concerns isn't braving the weather (I can do cold, a bit of rain), but just not being miserable or getting a full experience because of it (fog, closed sights, etc.)

Any help would be much appreciated!

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Re: Not so much when (February), but where...

Post by SwampeastMike » Sat Jan 26, 2013 4:24 am

With ten days, I think you are well advised to limit yourself to one major destination plus Istanbul. For a number of reasons, it's also a good idea to reserve Istanbul until the end of your holiday. You won't be splitting your time in the city and nearly anyplace in Turkey is better to recover from jetlag than the hectic, frentic, busy, noisy, exciting city of Istanbul! Unless you are of the truly gifted sort (wings would help as well), two days won't give you enough time to even orient yourself to the city. Four full days at the end of your visit would be at least reasonable and give you ideas of what to do when you return--hopefully in better weather as February in Istanbul is cold, cloudy and wet ;)

If you decide to forget about Istanbul for this trip, then you will have reasonable time for both the Lycian and Cappadocian regions. Provided you have the budget for a rental car both are ideal areas to have the luxury as while public transportation in Turkey is excellent it is geared to the needs of residents, not tourists. With a combination of car and foot in both regions you can definitely stumble upon out-of-the-way places that even in the high season are scarcely visited. The cost of a rental isn't too bad (although significantly higher than the U.S. or Canada) but fuel is astronomical. About $9/gallon for gasoline, $8 for Diesel.

A Turk who is a professional guide in Cappadocia is spending the winter with us in the U.S. and he tells me that you can expect cold (below freezing nights, barely above freezing days) in February--often cloudy with a modest chance of rain or snow. The Lycian area will be warmer and while almost no chance of below freezing temps day or night, still coldish nights and coolish days and often very cloudy with a decent chance of rain.

Internal flights from Istanbul to both Kayseri (for Cappadocia) and Antalya (for Lycia) should be very inexpensive at that time but book soon! You can take comfortable busses but it is a LONG ride to either from Istanbul! Antalya to Göreme (the most central town in Cappadocia) is about an 11 hour bus ride.

Both the Cappadocian and Lycian regions are famous for scenery but they are so different that they might as well be on separate planets. While the "fairy chimneys" are the main scenic attraction of Cappadocia, the ordinarily scanty greenery definitely adds to the scenic beauty when hiking the valleys. I dare say that there will be nothing green in February ;) The Lycian region does though have its beautiful evergreen covered mountains and, provided no storm, a sea that defines the color "blue".

Given my knowledge, I'd call it a toss-up between Cappadocia and Lycia.

Also given my knowledge and the time-of-year, I'd opt for a completely different itinerary:

Immediately fly from Istanbul to Mardin in the Southeast. Then work my way West to Hatay spending the entire ten days before flying back to Istanbul.

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